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5 Tips to Be a Tougher Leader

Learning from military training to never surrender.
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When faced with overwhelming odds, the best business leaders find the courage and strength to fight on. Here are five tips to help you find your inner fight.

One of my favorite movies is Snatch, by Guy Ritchie. At one point in the movie, the protagonist, Turkish, profoundly asks, "Have you ever crossed the road, and looked the wrong way? A car's nearly on you? So what do you do? Something very silly. You freeze. Your life doesn't flash before you, 'cause you're too f$@%in' scared to think - you just freeze and pull a stupid face."

Nobody can predict with any great certainty what one would do in a life or death situation. You can, however, prepare yourself mentally to handle such circumstances. Military training, for instance, is meant to prepare and equip our brave soldiers with the skills and mental fortitude to react quickly and properly in the face of overwhelming danger. The same fighting qualities that soldiers are mentally trained for are applicable to entrepreneurs and business leaders.

When your business is threatened by overwhelming circumstances and on the verge of complete failure, how would you react as the company’s leader? Do you flee, or do you fight?

Fighting means working even longer hours, taking a second mortgage, and otherwise doing whatever it takes to assure the survival of the business, at any cost, personal or otherwise. Fleeing is surrender.

You can prepare yourself to fight by considering and revisiting often these five tips:

1. Accept failure.

Understand that at some point in your entrepreneurial life, you will face complete and utter failure. Hold on to the optimism of potential success, but realize that you are more likely to fail than succeed. It’s okay, because every great entrepreneur does.

2. Focus on a solution.

When circumstances arise, and the company faces a challenge that is seemingly impossible to overcome, just accept it and move on to the next phase: solving the problem. The longer you linger on the problem and why it happened, the less time you have to fix it.

3. Do not look for a scapegoat.

There is no time to pin blame. In fact, as an entrepreneur, it is best to just accept the blame and write it off as, “I should have seen it coming”. Again, the longer you dwell on who is to blame, the more out of reach the solution becomes.

4. Consider bankruptcy only as last resort.

Bankruptcy is the equivalent of business suicide. It’s the fat lady singing at the business funeral. There are countless other means of fixing a problem that simply require creative and aggressive thinking. Of course, I understand there may be a time when you need to speak with legal counsel about your options in this regard, but remember that legal council makes their money on you quitting. It should be the absolute last resort.

5. Remember that everything is negotiable.

Ultimately, none of your stakeholders want you to fail. Banks and vendors want and indeed need you to succeed in order for them be paid. No matter how deep and dark your problem seems, remember that being honest with your stakeholders will provide them the confidence they need to support you as you right the ship.

When faced with overwhelming business adversity, an entrepreneur will react with either a flight or fight response. Keeping these tips in mind, however, will help prepare you mentally to fight rather than run.

Do you have an entrepreneurial experience when you faced a fight or flight situation? Please share with others below.

Last updated: Mar 20, 2014

PETER GASCA | Co-founder of WildCreations.com

Peter Gasca is the co-founder of Wild Creations, an Inc 5000 company that focuses on kid-related products and supports kid entrepreneurs. He is also a small-business consultant, youth entrepreneur mentor, and business adjunct lecturer.




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